IRRESPONSIBLE dog owners are wreaking havoc on farmland on the outskirts of Peebles.

The Peeblesshire News has this week been contacted by exasperated staff at the Edderston Livery near Morning Hill who are at the end of their tether. In recent weeks the Livery has lost a number of blackface sheep who were allowed to escape from their fields as a result of dog owners leaving gates open.

The situation has been steadily getting worse in recent years with numerous incidents of sheep wandering on to the nearby Edderston road after escaping from their enclosures.

Reacting to the worsening situation, David Jones, Manager at the Edderston Livery said: “More and more people are using the countryside to walk their dogs, and this is creating a real problem for us. Too many people seem to be ignorant of the Countryside Code and are either leaving gates open behind them or allowing their dogs off the lead around other animals. We are finding our sheep all over the estate as a result of this careless behaviour and it really needs to be addressed. Just last week we were busy unloading 300 sheep from a lorry when a woman walked past with her dog off the lead. When we challenged her about it, she seemed oblivious to our concerns. Not only is this costing us money as a result of losing sheep but it is also highly dangerous with sheep wandering on to the road.” The Edderston Livery is part of the Barns Estate, owned by Lady Elizabeth Benson, daughter of the Earl of Wemyss. Mr Jones added: “My message to people is quite simple. If you want to enjoy walking in the countryside, near working farms please ensure that you shut gates behind you and keep your dogs on leads when you are near fields with sheep in them.” PC Chris Burnside said: “Dog walkers need to have control of their dogs whilst walking with them, not only in areas were there are other members of the public but also in the countryside to avoid incidents such as worrying farm animals.”